Who: Jennifer Noyes
City: Thunder Bay, Ont.
Age: Age 42
By The Numbers: 386.7 pounds at my heaviest. I currently weigh 196.5 pounds for a total weight loss of 190 pounds. I am 5'6".
The Weight Gain: I have been overweight my entire life. I weighed 200 pounds when I was 12 years old. Being teased a lot in school, I tried starving myself or only eating a couple of crackers a day, but the weight kept creeping up.
Final Straw: After hearing a hurtful comment from a family member, I cried for weeks and came to the realization that I wasn't leaving the house for fear of running into people I know. I was unable to walk a few steps without having a hard time breathing. I needed to be there for my children, I needed to be around to watch them grow up. I knew deep down inside that I needed to change.
The Plan of Attack: I decide to rejoin TOPS (Take off Pounds Sensibly), as the weekly weigh-ins and informative meetings helped keep me accountable. My weight loss took 10 years, as I averaged losing roughly 20 pounds a year.
I started to cut back on portion sizes and I made healthier choices when it came to food. I traded in full-fat foods for lower-fat foods but never deprived myself of anything. I just ate in moderation.
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The Exercise Factor: I started by walking to the end of the driveway and back. Each day I went a bit further until I felt comfortable. Then I added swimming until I discovered Zumba. I bought the DVD to do at home, then a friend brought me to a live Zumba class and I was hooked after that.
"I tried starving myself or only eating a couple of crackers a day, but the weight kept creeping up."
The Food Element: I don't diet, I just live a healthier lifestyle in that all the changes I have made have become a habit. For example, I eat off a smaller plate, choose non-fat milk over full-fat, choose a bottle of water over a sugary drink, and I prefer baked over fried foods. I maintain my weight by healthy food choices and some exercise.
"I don't diet, I just live a healthier lifestyle in that all the changes I have made have become a habit."
The Current Day-to-Day: I still swim, do Zumba, and walk. I work out for 20 minutes a day and I try to switch it up so you don't get bored with it. I just recently received my licence to become a Zumba instructor.
When it comes to food, I still watch what I eat and track it in [the app] MyFitnessPal. I can't predict the future but I will continue my weekly TOPS meetings and healthier lifestyle so I don't regain the weight. Many years ago, I lost 100 pounds quickly only to regain 200 pounds back and I definitely do not want to go down that road again. I have no regrets looking back and I am most proud of finding my confidence along the way.
The best advice I can give is you must believe in yourself and believe in your journey. We all fall at some point, but it's about how hard you work to keep getting back up. Never give up and take one day, one meal, and one pound at a time.
Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and accuracy.
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